Inception. By now a movie so popular that it’s title alone has nearly become a household name. Featuring a stellar cast, a director who people probably worship in certain citadels, and an original plot (trust me, those are hard to come by nowadays), you’d think Inception would be an experience that just doesn’t quit. For most people, this is true. They leave the theater feeling as though their minds have been blown with an industrial sized flamethrower, which I suppose is somewhat justifiable. After all, main-stream audiences aren’t used to watching movies with original or intriguing ideas; that’s not a slight to audiences, but simply a fact.
I suppose, gauging from my introductory paragraph, that my overall tone is not complementary of Inception. This isn’t necessarily true. When I went into the IMAX theater, I had already read some reviews and was thereby fully expecting something of Biblical proportions to erupt on the screen.
When the movie started, I took a deep breath with anxious anticipation, gripping the edge of my seat with an inordinate amount of unruly strength. By the time the movie finished though, I felt tired, understanding director Christopher Nolan’s intent, but not feeling as extravagant as everyone else. Still, I suppose it would only be fair if I started off by saying what I enjoyed about Inception.
First, there’s the cast. Leonardo DiCaprio has chosen his movies well over the last few years, rising to an A-list actor, being granted the ability to star in whatever the hell he wants, with no one being able to go against his might. This has never been a bad thing though and his unruly and secretive demeanor in Inception makes the movie even that more interesting. His character of Cobb is one of the more psychologically complex and fascinating individuals that the screen has been blessed with this year and I’m sure students everywhere are going to try and write their psychology papers on both the movie and Cobb himself.
For that matter, every actor in the movie did their job as an actor should: well. Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who is becoming more and more popular with every film he stars in, takes on his role magnificently, being fully capable in holding his own next to DiCaprio and then of course partaking in one of the most entertainingly choreographed fight scenes of all time. Then you have Cillian Murphy, who was actually my favorite character in the entire movie, a subject matter that I shall return to later. Michael Caine, who pops in for a little while, is always a pleasure due to his general charismatic nature.
Secondly, dreams. I love dreams and I have some of the most bizarre dreams a person can probably be entitled to have without being locked in a home for the criminally insane. I’ve always wanted a movie that focused on dreams so brilliantly and Inception fulfilled that need. Ultimately, when TV shows or films end by saying the whole thing was simply a dream, I find that annoying and while there is a distinct amount of ambiguity that surrounds the ending of Inception, I shall go out of my way and say that I don’t trust in some people’s notion that the entire film was one dream and that Cobb is stuck in limbo or some nonsense. I’m sorry if you disagree with me, actually I’m not, but that’s just the way it is. To say that the ENTIRE movie was all a dream and it’s continually ongoing is too much of a copout for my taste.
Alright, now to my problems with the movie, and while they aren’t large in quantity, this is a category in where I deem quality to be the deciding factor. Now then, emotion. The ability to connect and feel something for what is being laid out in front of your eyes. The point of most dramatically charged films is to offer a sense of pathos, striking a chord with the audience and allowing them to engage in an emotional undertaking with the film’s protagonist. Whenever I view such a movie, I am eagerly awaiting a sense of catharsis, filing me to the brim with emotion as a little tingle goes up and down my spine. Inception did not do this for me. Instead it detracted nearly any overarching sense of emotion and decided to instead replace it with groovy special effects and coffee-house talking material. My favorite moment in the entire film is the scene in which Cillian Murphy’s character achieves his moment of catharsis, discovering one of his childhood toys in his father’s vault. This was the only honest moment in the movie’s entirety. I expected more from Christopher Nolan to be honest. He knows how to write a script and he knows how to write characters, but what he did not accomplish was providing a sense of pathos, a failure I cannot forgive him for. If you don’t trust in pathos’s or even the importance of catharsis, then go ahead and check out Aristotle and what he had to say in his “Rhetoric.” It’s okay, I’ll wait.
Alright, since that’s out of the way, I shall resume. In my mind Inception didn’t live up to the acclaimed hype that has made it so popular. In fact, I am continually under the impression that it fell drastically short of its potential, but what are you going to do? Another and more personal grievance that I have towards Inception was its level of complexity, or lack thereof. I’ve heard people saying how the movie confused them to no end and about how they didn’t ‘get’ certain things. Well you know what, I didn’t find it confusing and a good deal of people I talked to didn’t find it confusing. The whole dream-within-a-dream scenario is not difficult to understand and the only reason why some are confused is because of the ending, and then trying to create their own explanations. Sadly, especially in the case of cinema, sometimes what you see is what you get. If you want confusing go and watch Lost Highway; that’ll make you wonder.